The I-Search is very different from the standard research essay in some
ways, but the overall requirement of the research and thesis are the same. Pay particular attention to the format of
the I-Search and the requirement of the sections.
The I-Search paper will be written
in five integrated sections. Use the following Subtitles--On the margin, bold print, same size font as the text:
- What I knew
- The Search
- What I Discovered
- What's next?
Introduction: The introduction of your essay should give your reader some indication
of why you have chosen to write about this particular topic. Keep in mind that your essay needs to have some point. What message
do you want to communicate to your reader. The message needs to be something more than "I want to be a ----- when I grow up." This
is where you need to begin to develop your thesis. It may be a "thinking" thesis (I though that...), or even your research
What I Knew or Assumed: Think about what you knew when you were given the topic. How many classes had you taken
so far? What about the field/job did you think was true (or likely)? Write a section in which you explain
to the reader what you knew, what you assumed, or what you imagined about your topic. There are no wrong answers here.
You are basically establishing a direction for your research.
The Search: Write your search in a narrative form, relating the steps of the discovery process (this means that you
are going to tell the story of what you did to research this topic and what you learned in the process). Do not feel obligated
to tell everything (you don't have to tell the reader the boring stuff), but highlight any ideas you developed
that were crucial to your hunt and contributed to your understanding of the topic/research question. (This is where
you get to brag--or complain--about all the research you have been doing for four weeks!)
What I Discovered:
After concluding your search, compare what you thought you knew, assumed, or imagined
with what you actually discovered, assess your overall learning experience, and offer some personal commentary about the value
of your discoveries and/or draw some conclusions. Some questions that you might consider at this stage:
- How accurate
were your original assumptions?
- What new information
did you acquire?
- What did you
learn that surprised you?
- Overall, what
value did you derive from the process of searching and discovery?
Don’t just do a question/answer
conclusion. Go back to the main point you want to make with this essay. What final message do you want to leave with your
readers? Remember your thesis at the introduction--you should have been "proving" your opinion all along, so here is
where you pull it together.
Special thanks to Francie Quaas-Berryman, English Department,Cerritos College